Choosing Quality Kitchen Cabinets

Recognize good kitchen cabinets when you see them. Read this list to determine if the ones you're considering are high-quality or not worth the cash.


No single item affects the look, cost, and longevity of your kitchen as much as cabinetry. Buying the cheapest available is rarely the best choice. Drawers soon wobble on their substandard guide hardware or fall apart altogether, and inferior finishes wear away. Unless the cabinet surfaces are solid wood or wood veneer, painting or refinishing will be difficult or even impossible. When comparing cabinets, ask about construction details and look for these signs of lasting quality:

  • Solid-wood face frames with doweled-and-glued joints, unless the cabinet is frameless.
  • Mortise-and-tenon joinery; it's even better, but it's a custom-only feature.
  • Solid-wood drawer fronts and door frames; solid or swell-veneered door panels.
  • Solid-wood or plywood drawer sides at least 1/2-inch thick, with doweled or dovetailed joints (avoid stapled-and-glued joints).
  • Self-closing drawer and tray glides able to bear at least 75-100 pounds each. Ball bearings are best. Full-extension glides increase storage space.
  • Corner braces, plywood sides, and rear panels in the cabinet box.
  • Adjustable shelves in wall cabinets
  • Pullout trays instead of fixed shelves in lower cabinets.
  • Drawers and doors that open without any trace of wobbling or binding.
  • Extended warranties and performance guarantees.
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